Partial government shutdown could hurt January jobs numbers: Kevin Hassett

If congressional leaders are unable to pass legislation to end a partial government shutdown that began at the end of December, it could hurt the number of jobs the U.S. economy adds in January, according to Kevin Hassett, chair of the Council of Economic Advisers.

That’s largely because if government employees affected by the shutdown are still furloughed on Jan. 10 -- which is when the household survey that’s used to calculate unemployment starts -- they will say they’re not working. The Department of Labor will release the payroll data for January on Feb. 1.

“So when we see the January jobs number, it could be a big negative,” Hassett told reporters on Thursday. “But it would be because of the furloughed workers, who are ultimately going to get paid.”

If that happens, Hassett said the White House would adjust for the furloughed workers to better gauge what the employment situation is without the partial government shutdown.

On Friday, the Labor Department will release the jobs report for December  – its final one for 2018 – which will offer an in-depth evaluation of the labor market, including job additions, unemployment rate, wage growth and labor participation rate. The economy is expected to have added 177,000 jobs, signaling a robust labor market.

The 13-day shutdown began on Dec. 22 after lawmakers failed to reach a bipartisan funding deal because of a dispute about how much money to allocate to a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Although three-fourths of the government remained open, there are still hundreds of thousands of furloughed employees affected by it.